The state-run Coal India Limited (CIL) collected a large amount by way of the staffs' contribution to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for disaster victims, but is yet to credit over Rs.100 million to the fund, an employee has found out using the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
About 450,000 employees of the CIL donated over Rs.406 million to the PMNRF for providing relief to victims of natural disasters like the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Orissa super cyclone and the Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir earthquakes, Muzibur Rahman, a 38-year-old employee of South-Eastern Coal Field Limited (SECFL), a subsidiary of CIL, told reporters here Monday.
'It's a shock to all government employees who made the donation from their salaries for a greater cause. Instead of a month, it took a year to get the details from both the CIL and the PMNRF,' Rahman said.
'After filing a number of RTI applications in the CIL and the PMNRF, I came to know about the break-up of donations given and donations received in the relief fund. The PMNRF has enquired about the irregularities and confirmed the mismanagement by the CIL,' he said.
He also distributed papers received through the RTI.
A letter signed by Davinder P.S. Sandhu, the director in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), said: '...It is clear that Rs.406,525,163.54 was due as contribution to the PMNRF but only Rs.300,000,000 has been contributed to the PMNRF.'
The letter also said that while over Rs.47 million was diverted to other funds, over Rs.59 million was 'still lying with the CIL'.
'It is evident from the CIL notification that the funds have been collected for the PMNRF and employees have been given income tax relief based on the contribution so made. In so far as the interest on the funds lying with the CIL, it has been informed that no separate fund has been created for the PMNRF at the CIL and the fund has been kept with the CIL as working capital,' Sandhu said in the letter dated Sep 14.
As per the letters from the PMO, over Rs.70 million donated for the Jammu and Kashmir quake of 2005 has not been credited to the relief fund till date.
Elaborating on the mismanagement, RTI activist and Magsaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal said: 'The PMO needs to file a case against the CIL. This is a clear case of cheating by the CIL.
'Rahman has been facing harassment at his office in Chhattisgarh after he moved the RTI applications. He has been transferred twice within one year. I think, the PMO should take strong action against the CIL,' Kejriwal told IANS.
He said it was shocking that instead of taking action, the PMO said that the mismanagement was on the CIL's part and not on its side.
'Our prime minister is in charge of the coal ministry and the office cannot shed its responsibility. Unless the CIL is punished, people will hesitate to donate to the PMNRF, which has been a source of relief for many disasters.
'We are forwarding a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with copy of all documents and expect justice from him,' he said.
Rahman said he was waiting to get details of their donations on account of several natural disasters in the past.
'Over a decade, the CIL authorities are mismanaging employees' donations,' he said.
Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan said: 'The RTI act has the provision of availing information within a month but they took almost a year (in providing information). This is shocking, shameful and calls for immediate action.'